Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Aspects from the bank rescues: advertising largesse and big bonuses

Banks and financial institutions are big spenders on
A nice little critique on that appeared recently
in Seeking Alpha:
Is Wachovia's $150 Million Ad Account Smart Spending?

Because of the many bankruptcies and bailouts the
whole lot of advertising by the financial sector took
on a rather comic character. Just a couple of weeks
ago a number of such institutions tried to make a
big impression on the media consumers with glossy
ads. Only to find their names big in the headlines
a little bit later.

Pretty drastic were the results of all the ads for credits
in recent years which were all over the media. Many of
those mortgage firms are meantime out of business or
drastically reduced.
It is obviously because the media were the beneficiaries
of these ad revenue that they would not raise hell
about them. There would have been a real need for
scrutiny from an early phase on.

Another aspect to which many people object, find appalling,
are the salaries and bonuses of some in the financial sector.
Really greedy people whom they now have to bail out or
Here an article in Boomberg from last year:

Wall Street Plans $38 Billion of Bonuses as Shareholders Lose

European institutions are not much different either.
It is no wonder when people have grown weary and got

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Will concerns over banks going bankrupt also hit the media; newspapers and TV?

The events of the financial markets are likely to
affect the media. "Follow the Media" points to
some of the related problems:

"Media World Upheaval - Credit Crunch Hits
Revenue Even More As Alernative Media Grows"

In addition to that it is quite likely that the consumers
are changing their media consumption. For instance
in cases where they feel badly informed, misled.
There was indeed a lot of manipulation going on in
the recent months if not years as it turns out now.
One just has to think of the many assurances made
time and again which were regularly followed by nasty
surprises, exactly the opposite of what experts and
bank economists said on TV. It was really ludicrous.
It would thus be no big surprise if the media worldwide
would be falling out of favour, losing audience and anyhow
really excessive advertising revenue.

The worries and concerns over banks goings bust is
of concern pretty everywhere in Europa and the USA,
possibly people in Asia are asking the same questions.
Thsi means, even without any big busts, the super -
Gau, the meltdown of all public relations efforts and
advertising of banks. The millions spent by them turning
out to be complete waste of money. A case where
advertising and PR backfires, is eventually counter-

"Follow the Media" (link above) also quotes from a survey
conducted in France concerning TV ad popularity.
According to that, "nine out of ten people in France
are not keen on enduring more ads on TV. Eight in
ten believe there are already too many".
The survey was carried by a radio group, thus a bit
biased, but it is vertainly not far off the mark.

Considering the damage and costs those ads for credits
that ran in recent years have caused, surveys might come
to even worse results if that would be included.

It is possible that because of these concerns media
consumers are disconnecting themselves somehow
from the media. They might even liberate themselves
from one or the other medium when it is percerved
as annoying, useless or burden, something to shy away

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Crime comedies amidst the financial market turmoil. Two cosy crime classics:

Jeffrey Archer:
Not a penny more, not a penny less

One million dollars - that's what Harvey Metcalfe, lifelong king of shady deals, has
pulled off with empty promises of an oil bonanza and instant riches. Overnight, four 
men - the heir to an earldom, a Harley Street doctor, a Bond Street art dealer and 
an Oxford don - find themselves penniless. But this time Harvey has swindled the 
wrong men. They band together and shadow him from the casinos of Monte Carlo 
to the high-stakes windows at Ascot and the hallowed lawns of Oxford.Their plan is
simple: to sting the crook for axactly what they lost. To the penny.

Since its first publication in 1978, this book got reprinted 57 times. And it is
probably needing some more reprinting. Never really out of fashion, always good to
read in hindsight of all those smaller and bigger financial scams, it is - as can be
expected - in bigger demand again.

And another classic of this genre:
P. G. Wodehouse:
Do Butlers Burgle Banks?
Situated as it was in a prosperous county town, Bond's Bank had long enjoyed the respectful
confidence of its clients. But when Mike inherited the Bank from his late uncle, Sir Hugo, he was 
shocked to find that, thanks to the prodigal benevolence of his predecessor, the Bank was many
thousands short in the kitty. Time was needed to make up the defalcations, but, as ill luck would 
have it, the Bank Examiners were due immediately to go over the Bank's books. The prospect of 
gaol loomed large. "Unless", said Mike desperately, "some kindly burglar takes it into his head to 
burgle the bank before the Examiners arrive, I'm for it."

It was with no such altruistic thought that, coincidentally, Horace the gentlemanly gangster, had 
indeed planned such an enterprise, but strictly for the benefit of himself and his deserving 
colleagues,  Ferdie the Fly, and Basher, the safe expert. To further his plans, Horace took a job 
as butler to the Bond residence where, inspired by her superlative cooking, he fell in love with Ada, 
Mike's secretary; and as with other ardent lovers before him, the pure flame of love changed his 
motives— if not his intentions. And all might have been well, but for the well meant endeavours of 
Jill, Mike's sprightly fiancee, the intervention of Charlie the Chicago gangster and the suspicions of 
Potter, the hard-faced man from Scotland Yard. All these events, and what eventually fell out, are 
faithfully chronicled in this highly diverting novel by the inimitable P. G. 

Warren Buffetts' famous 2003 warning of the credit crunch and bank failures

A contributing author of Seeking Alpha has dug out
Warren Buffetts letter from 2003:
"Warren Buffett warned us in 2003"

It is indeed a memorable piece in which Buffett
describes the derivates as "financial waepons of
mass destruction".

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Book review: Confessions of a subprime lender. An insider's tale

Richard Bitner was co - owner of a mortgage shop. He saw
the dodgy practices in this industry and got out of it in
2005. In good time, for the company he was a partner in
before went bust in 2007.
His book draws on the experience inside the mortgage
industry and tells it all. According to him it was a matter
of lacking professionalism, crazy loans, greed and outright
fraud. And ignorance.
Bitner pulls the curtain back to reveal the inner workings
of the mortgage industry and explain why the housing crisis
is much worse than people think it is. The books is easy
to read and understand, enlightening and for someone not
affected entertaining like a crime story.

Richard Bitner: Confessions of a Subprime Lender:
An Insider's Tale of Greed, Fraud, & Ignorance

Here a link to his website, www.lendingsanity.com.
The first chapter can be downloaded free.